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Making ‘Sweet’ meringues with Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh |

Making ‘Sweet’ meringues with Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh

For all of the sugar artistry, the showiness of elaborate frosting and gorgeous fruit, on display in a pastry kitchen, desserts are mostly about fundamentals. Basic techniques. Basic ingredients. So it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that egg whites feature so prominently in the latest cookbook from British Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi. He began his career as a pastry chef, after all, as did Helen Goh, his collaborator on “Sweet,” their new dessert cookbook. There’s a pavlova on the cover of the American edition. There are about 10 recipes for meringues inside the book. If you’ve ever been to Ottolenghi’s shop in the Notting Hill neighborhood of London, meringues are the first thing you see, towering in the window, confronting you as you walk in the door, begging to be eaten as soon as possible.

And when Ottolenghi and Goh visited The Times’ Test Kitchen, not too long ago, it was a meringue that they demonstrated, in the form of a pavlova tricked out and rolled up like a Yule log.

“Meringues are the basis of so many classical desserts; they’re so instrumental in baking,” said Ottolenghi above the loud engine of the KitchenAid mixer. “When you want to show off, you do meringues.” Most often, a pavlova is made as a giant meringue, a Frisbee-sized free-form confection that’s baked, then topped with whipped cream and fruit or whatever’s on hand. Ottolenghi and Goh have spread out their meringue on a sheet pan and baked it like a sponge cake, then dropped whipped cream, sliced peaches, blackberries and almonds on top and rolled it up, jelly roll style. The result is show-stopping.

While “Sweet” is Ottolenghi’s sixth cookbook, it is his first devoted solely to desserts, and you get the feeling as he talks about it that the book’s making was as much a fun, sugar-high playtime as it was a study in dessert technique. In the kitchen, the two chefs, who each have two children under the age of 7, act like kids themselves, finishing each other’s sentences and jokes as they assemble the parts of the dish.

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